Oct. 31, 2012. Banner Elk native Jane Baucom Stephenson has been changing lives for 25 years. Local residents can learn about the extent of her transformative work on Nov. 11 when Stephenson will sign copies of her newest book, Changing Lives in Appalachia: The New Opportunity School for Women.
Stephenson is the founder of the non-profit New Opportunity School for Women, which she began in Berea, Kentucky, in 1987. As a graduate of Lees-McRae College and former member of the Board of Trustees, she was pleased to oversee the opening of the Banner Elk branch of the program nine years ago. She has just released her third book about the organization and the women it serves.
The mission of the New Opportunity School for Women is to help low-income Appalachian women improve their personal, financial, and educational circumstances. The program consists of a three-week residential summer program serving 12-14 women. During their stay, and at no cost whatsoever to the women, they take classes from qualified volunteer instructors who teach attendees skills such as creating a resume, how to interview for jobs, and public speaking. The program also covers home accounting and budgeting, job search skills, domestic violence awareness, self-defense and self-esteem classes, computer lessons, and instruction on applying for higher education certificates and degrees.
The New Opportunity School for Women takes no public funds, and operates through grants and donations. Local foundation support includes the High Country Women’s Fund, the Appalachian Women’s Fund, and generous church groups and individuals.
Changing Lives in Appalachia: The New Opportunity School for Women describes the innovative program in detail, and includes stories from women who have attended the program. Stephenson will sign books at the Carson Library on the Lees-McRae Campus on Sunday, Nov. 11 from noon to 3 p.m. The price is $15, and Stephenson will also offer DVDs of a documentary about the New Opportunity School for Women.
More information about the book signing or the program can be found at www.lmc.edu/nosw/ or by contacting NOSW at Lees-McRae Director Karen Sabo at 828-898-8905.